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Breakpoint 2023: Intersection of Maps, Geospatial and Web3

Akshay Yeleswarapu discusses the integration of maps and geospatial data with Web3 technology.

The notes below are AI generated and may not be 100% accurate. Watch the video to be sure!


In a recent presentation at Breakpoint 2023, Akshay Yeleswarapu, Founder & CEO of Proto, laid out the company's vision for a revolutionary approach to mapping. Amidst a general overview of map usage and their integration into daily life, Yeleswarapu identified the limitations of current mapping techniques and the potential for user-generated, blockchain-based solutions to transform the geospatial landscape. With a clear rationale for adopting Web3 technologies, he expounded on the challenges of traditional mapping and presented Proto’s ambitious plan for a user-generated token-incentivized map platform.

Key Points:

The State of Mapping Today

Maps are a part of our daily lives, guiding us through cities, optimizing travel, and more. Yeleswarapu highlighted that, on average, people access maps over four times a day, and these tools are so integrated into daily life that their importance often goes unnoticed. He shared a personal anecdote of a recurring inconvenience with an incorrect drop-off location due to outdated map data. This demonstrated a broader issue—despite their extensive use, maps are still being updated using outdated methods.

The Role of Community in Map Creation

Traditional map data collection processes are complex and cannot keep up with the rapid changes in the physical world. Open source contributions have been central to map creation, with platforms like OpenStreetMap (OSM) enabling a collaborative approach. However, these contributions can be time-intensive and technically demanding, leading to conflicts between contributors and the commercial entities that profit from the data.

The Emergence of Web3 in Mapping

Web3 technologies offer a solution by aligning the incentives of contributors with their outputs. Much like token-incentivized networks have shown success in other domains, Yeleswarapu believes that a similar model could transform mapping. He envisions a world where map data is built independently, managed publicly, and distributed permissionlessly, akin to other decentralized data on Web3.

Proto’s Approach to Decentralized Mapping

Proto is tackling the challenges of traditional mapping by creating a user-generated, token-incentivized platform. Acknowledging mapmakers as content creators, Proto seeks to provide an accessible platform for creating and consuming map data. With a mobile app already in private beta, Proto aims to democratize mapmaking, allowing users to effortlessly contribute data without specialized GIS knowledge or equipment. The platform uses events such as mapathons to gather community-contributed data and develop an open map accessible to all.

Facts + Figures

  • Users access maps about four and a half times a day, indicating the high frequency of map usage.
  • Current mapping techniques haven't evolved in 20 years, leading to outdated and inaccurate maps.
  • Traditional map updating involves collection, management, analysis, and visualization, but data collection remains a bottleneck.
  • Open source platforms like OpenStreetMap have traditionally played a significant role in mapping but come with challenges for contributors.
  • Web3 technology introduces a token system that aligns contributor efforts with incentives.
  • Proto, a user-generated map platform, considers open-source mapmakers as content creators.
  • Proto is designed to lower entry barriers by offering a mobile app for easy data contribution.
  • A private beta of Proto's mobile app was launched six weeks before the presentation in Bangalore with 500 active mappers.
  • Proto will organize mapathons to gather community-driven map data for a global decentralized map.
  • The public beta of Proto is scheduled for release at the end of the month featured in the video.

Top quotes

  • "Maps are ubiquitous that we often forget them. We just tune them out, which is probably the best thing for the product."
  • "The big problem is that we're actually still making them the way we made them 20 years ago."
  • "The reason that we're still stuck at data collection is that the world is large and it changes really fast."
  • "Web3 is about aligning incentives and something that's been very well demonstrated by token incentivized networks."
  • "Map data needs to be like every other piece of data on Web3, built independently, managed publicly, and distributed permissionlessly."
  • "You shouldn't need to know GIS to be able to contribute data on the map."
  • "Proto is a user-generated token incentivized map of the world."
  • "We want the community to take over this process as fast as possible."

Questions Answered

How have maps become integral to our daily lives?

Maps are a core tool used in daily activities, including transportation, delivery, and travel planning. They are accessed frequently, with an average of four and a half uses per day per person, underscoring their integration into our routines. Maps assist in navigating cities, estimating travel times, and allocating resources effectively.

What problems exist with current mapping technologies?

Traditional mapping systems are struggling with rapid changes in the world. Data collection, which has not significantly advanced in the last two decades, is a process that often results in outdated and inaccurate maps. This limitation can lead to various inconveniences, such as incorrect navigation routes or errors in local search results.

How can Web3 technology improve mapmaking?

Web3 technology can enhance the mapmaking process by aligning incentives using tokenization. By rewarding contributors for their updates and data, maps can become more accurate and up-to-date. The decentralized nature of Web3 allows for more frequent updates and transparency, which benefits all users of the maps.

What is Proto, and how does it plan to change mapmaking?

Proto is a platform aiming to revolutionize mapmaking by creating a user-generated, token-incentized map of the world. Proto allows contributors, who are considered as content creators, to easily share data without needing advanced technical skills or special equipment. By utilizing a mobile app, Proto enables the crowd-sourced collection of geospatial data, facilitating a more collaborative and accessible mapmaking process.

What are mapathons, and why are they significant for Proto?

Mapathons are community-driven events organized by Proto where participants collectively gather and capture data about specific areas of a city. These events are a key method for accumulating large amounts of geospatial data crucial for updating and maintaining an accurate, decentralized map. Through mapathons, Proto further reduces the barriers to entry in mapmaking and encourages widespread community participation.